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tv   Frontline  PBS  February 10, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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>> tonight on frontline: the day the quake t haiti, the jails broke open. >> all of the hardcore gang leaders escaped. >> one year later... >> >> the tent camps represented virgin territory for the gangs. >> ...a seven-man police unit is hunting them down. tonight, on the anniversary of the quake, frontline takes you inside the battle for haiti's future. >> unless we address the issue of rule of law in haiti, all the efforts on reconstruction, on
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development, on peacekeeping, will be in vain. >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major funding is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. and by reva and david logan, committed to investigative journalism as the guardian of the public interest. additional funding is provided by the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund.
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>> narrator: on the day of the earthquake, the national penitentiary held 4,500 inmates: powerful gang leaders and hundreds of their foot soldiers, men accused of robbery, kidnapping and murder. at 4:50, they were finishing their evening meal.
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>> narrator: terrified prisoners, packed 300 to a cell, tore down the gates with their bare hands. facing them were the prison guards. >> narrator: as daylight faded, the guards began to panic.
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>> narrator: even prisoners crushed by falling masonry managed to crawl free. >> narrator: the escaped prisoners melted into the slums of the devastated capital. among them, gangsters who'd once controlled much of port au prince. now the earthquake gave them the chance to do so again. the world promised to help the haitians rebuild a new and better country. with the escaped gangsters still on the loose, those efforts, and the very future of haiti, hang in the balance.
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mario andresol, haiti's police chief. on the day of the earthquake, he narrowly escaped death as his headquarters collapsed. nine months later, a mob has stormed a police station and hacked a policeman to death. >> ( translated ): it's chaos right now. there's a state of fear, a psychosis. because the escapees are robbing banks, murdering, kidnapping, it has created a psychosis. >> narrator: backed by un forces, andresol played a key
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role in the bloody military onslaught that, three years ago, subdued the gangs and put many of their leaders in jail. >> ( translated ): before the earthquake, we didn't have so many problems because all those prisoners and kidnappers were behind bars. that just proves we arrested the right people. there was calm. people felt safe on the streets. now we have to start again. >> narrator: the gangsters who escaped from the national penitentiary discovered new territory to conquer: improvised camps built by the survivors of the earthquake wherever they found space. >> sorry to cry.
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>> narrator: tent by tent, the gangsters took control of the camps. >> narrator: cassandre st. vil lost her father and her home in the earthquake.
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>> narrator: before the earthquake, cassandre was studying to be an accountant. >> narrator: thousands of earthquake survivors have been raped in the camps. every month, there are hundreds more. cherlie christophe is 19. the earthquake wrecked her home and killed her mother. she lives alone in a tent.
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>> narrator: the police have largely abandoned the million haitians who live in 1,200 tent camps in and around port au prince. >> ( translated ): how do we make the camps safer? it's a real headache. we weren't set up to control
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these camps full of temporary shelters. they provide hiding places for the escapees. i don't have enough men. i can't put a cop in every tent. >> narrator: after the earthquake, international aid focused on the tent camps. now they are the gangs' new power-base. the senior un official who monitors gang violence is william gardner. >> the tent camps represented virgin territory for the gangs to go and conquer. and what we see now is that in very many cases, the gang leadership is actually spending more time in the camps than in the neighborhoods, because it's in the camps that... it's safer for them to be in there than outside. >> narrator: la saline, a slum neighborhood near the container. port. the police are hunting a gang of
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escaped prisoners who are known to be heavily armed. they are supported by 100 un troops, part of a force of 12,000 peacekeepers from 57 countries. in the decades before the earthquake, haiti, a country of ten million people, was already a failing state. >> we have to put this country into the context of a nation that has committed collective suicide. they had institutions and courts and rule of law and ministries and hospitals and schools, and that doesn't exist anymore.
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if we left, the whole country would just fall apart. >> narrator: inspector jean- frenel beauvoir of the haitian police leads the operation. beauvoir has brought an informer in heavy disguise. >> narrator: beauvoir gets news he's been waiting for. >> narrator: he knows gang leader jean-marc juste, alias grimo. he'd arrested him two years ago. grimo escaped in the earthquake.
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grimo and his followers have been terrorizing the neighborhood. beauvoir hopes the gang's weapons are still in grimo's house. the weapons have gone. grimo insists he's kept out of trouble since escaping from the penitentiary.
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>> narrator: beauvoir and the un withdraw, leaving the neighborhood to the gangs. besides grimo, the masked informer has pointed out five other men, but the names they give aren't on the list of escaped prisoners. the lack of records in haiti makes it hard for the police to establish anyone's identity. the men are taken for questioning.
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after the earthquake, foreign governments pledged almost $10 billion in aid, inspiring hopes that haiti could have a fresh start. but those hopes can't be fulfilled while so much of the country remains lawless. >> unless we address the issue of rule of law in haiti, all the efforts that the international community is doing now on reconstruction, on rebuilding, on development, the un peacekeeping mission here on the ground, if we do not address the issue of rule of law, everything else will be in vain. >> narrator: cité soleil, the largest slum in port-au-prince. its people survive on less than a dollar a day.
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>> narrator: hundreds of escaped prisoners are hiding here. roody lafont is one of them. >> narrator: the police say roody is a violent gangster who has returned to his old ways.
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>> narrator: even before the earthquake, police had few of the photographic and fingerprint records that forces in other countries rely on. >> narrator: an escaped gangster
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is willing to lead the police to a gang hideout if his sentence is reduced. >> narrator: at the heart of almost every police operation is an informer whose motives are often suspect. from inside the vehicle, the informer begins pointing out people to arrest. the main target, an escaped prisoner named alfred, has vanished.
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his sister is taken for questioning. >> narrator: when an informer can't be found, the police seal off entire neighborhoods and arrest anyone who appears suspicious.
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>> narrator: the men arrested in the sweep were taken to a police station for screening. >> narrator: watching from the chief's office are three men from the neighborhood. they've been told to look for unfamiliar faces. >> the pointing out of a individual by a community does not mean that then the individual community members are willing to stand and bear witness in a trial. they never will. so it really is a sort of popular justice.
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>> narrator: in the end, there's little to show for the combined efforts of 450 un peacekeepers and haitian police. >> narrator: the only evidence against the men is that they're from outside the neighborhood.
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>> narrator: as the police stumble through a fog of dubious information, the battle for the rule of law in haiti is being lost. police chief andresol has called senior officers to an emergency meeting. crime is surging and andresol feels they're losing control. a senior officer's wife has just been assassinated. a gang of escapees is kidnapping wealthy haitians. >> narrator: another kidnap gang has adopted a disturbing tactic.
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>> narrator: andresol has been trying to root out rogue cops for years, but he also fears that corrupt politicians are in league with the resurgent gangs. >> ( translated ): honest people don't go into politics in haiti. that's our great tragedy. to be in politics, you have to belong to a closed circle of men who think only of themselves and who at times can resort to killing. >> narrator: andresol knows this from experience. before becoming police chief five years ago, he survived two assassination attempts organized by politicians linked to gangs,
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and had to flee into exile in new york. >> ( translated ): someone can lose his life for making a decision that goes against a certain group within the system. the system is organized like a gang. >> narrator: until last month, ray baysden headed the un's intelligence center in haiti. >> there is not a natural divide between politics and gangsterism. they know that in order to succeed, they must depend on each other. the politician knows that he needs that gangster to survive, that he needs that gangster to get elected, to stay elected, and to carry out his or her mandate. >> narrator: half the haitians of voting age are illiterate. gang leaders control vast numbers of votes in the slums. the introduction of democracy in the last 20 years has driven politicians and gangsters into a
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tight embrace. >> the haitian police know what's going on. in fact, the executive level leadership, they know what's going on. the problem is a lack of political will to act and bring to justice these people. if they move against these criminal elements, they themselves are at risk. >> narrator: to speed the recapture of escaped prisoners, the haitian police have set up a special unit of seven detectives who worked in the penitentiary. they at least know what many of the escaped prisoners look like. the number two in the squad is wilson lamartinière.
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>> narrator: lamartinière lives in the ruins of the juvenile prison. he was made homeless by the earthquake, but the tent cities are too dangerous for him. >> narrator: an informer has spotted escaped prisoners in a nearby town.
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>> narrator: even before the earthquake, the unit leader, ronald gay, specialized in recapturing escaped prisoners. the gangsters know who the detectives are. they often receive death threats. >> narrator: three of the detectives are on the street with the informer. they've located an escaped prisoner.
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>> narrator: jean eddy insists he was released months before the earthquake. no one believes him. >> narrator: a confession is needed. detective peterson sets to work.
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>> narrator: an hour after the first arrest, they spot a second escaped prisoner.
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>> narrator: two more arrests, and the team heads back to the city to hand over the prisoners. the prospect of years in prison terrifies them all. >> narrator: the un has financed emergency repairs to the
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penitentiary, but the prison still embodies much of what's wrong with the haitian state. >> narrator: grimo is being returned to the prison. he knows what awaits him. >> they have 58 centimeters per inmate, and they can't even sit down or lie down. and they have to stand up like sardines in those cells, and
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they have to take turns in order for them to sit. >> narrator: haiti's criminal code allows prisoners to be held while they're being investigated, but the courts are so dysfunctional that prisoners can spend five or six years awaiting trial. >> one big concern, of course, is the issue of pre-trial detention. 80% of inmates have never seen a judge.
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>> narrator: detective exameau belongs to the seven-man unit which hunts escaped prisoners. he recruits informers inside the penitentiary. >> narrator: for major criminals with the right connections, the justice system offers a swift way out. >> unfortunately, in most cases where the person truly is a criminal, because he's a criminal, he has disposable cash. he will buy his way out of this dysfunctional system. the person who perhaps has been arrested wrongly, not having the money, will not be able to buy his way out.
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so they enup in the jail and stay there for years. >> and someone who stole a chicken four years ago is now in the same cell as... as a murderer. and the one that stole the chicken will be in jail probably longer than the... than the one that killed someone. >> narrator: the gangs corrode the rule of law in haiti, but the corrupt justice system undermines it even more. jean-joseph exumé is a former minister of justice.
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>> narrator: jean eddy still insists he was let out of prison before the earthquake. the unit's leader, ronald gay, has called headquarters to see if there's any record of his release. ( phone rings ) >> chief? >> narrator: gay gets news from hearters. >> narrator: jean eddy's name is not on the list of prisoners who escaped in the earthquake. gay has to let him go.
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>> narrator: jean eddy is released, after a five-hour ordeal, 30 miles from home.
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>> narrator: gay's seven-man team may be small, but they're a vital part of the battle for the rule of law in haiti, yet he's had to spend half his paycheck on fuel for the trip. >> narrator: one year after the earthquake, of the 4,500 prisoners who escaped from the national penitentiary, less than 700 have been recaptured.
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opposite the palace which houses haiti's paralyzed government lives jean osée and his family. three months before the earthquake, a gang of robbers attacked mrs. osée at her street stall. she was eight months pregnant. >> narrator: the robbers were jailed but escaped in the earthquake. now the osées worry they'll return. >> narrator: led by mr. osée, the residents are holding a meeting.
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>> narrator: they fear the camp leadership has been infiltrated by gangsters. new tents from the aid agencies are being sold for profit. >> narrator: after the earthquake, the osées spent their last few dollars to set up their food stall again.
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>> narrator: the early focus on giving aid to the tent cities has had unforeseen consequences. ( applause ) >> people in the slums very quickly realized "if we stay here, we're not going to get anything, let's go into a camp quickly." >> narrator: the prospect of aid flowing into the tent camps, and the hope of being given a house, drew hundreds of thousands of haitians from the slums into the camps. >> figures began to emerge which indicated that possibly up to 30% of people in camps truly had no reason to be there other than wanting to be on a list to benefit from aid. and the huge danger now is that these camps will evolve into the new generation of slums.
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>> narrator: nicole orelus sells plates of food from her shop in cité soleil. over the decades, she has watched her community become dependent on aid.
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>> narrator: there are 10,000 non-governmental organizations, ngos, delivering aid in haiti. over the past 30 years, as the ngos have grown, the haitian state has shrunk. weakness of the haitian state because... for the last 30 years because we didn't like the ideology of one government, we didn't like the ideology of another government, because thought there was corruption, etc. we had been building parallel structures and institutions in haiti. instead of working with the state or through the state, we have created those parallel structures. this is the republic of ngos. >> narrator: to end dependency,
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haitians need jobs. there aren't many factories left in haiti, but the ones that somehow survive can flourish. >> we are t-shirt experts. we manufacture millions of t- shirts on a weekly basis that we export to usa. >> narrator: richard coles, a haitian businessman, employs 3,000 people making t-shirts. >> we're very, very efficient. the us market loves our products. they are all made in haiti. people don't know it, and we're doing a good job. i don't have survivors. i mean, all of them are consumers. they go out there, they buy food, send kids to school. they have a home. some don't have a home yet, but they have a place to live, a yard, a big tent. that's the future.
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>> narrator: to get to the future, the country needs policies that work. >> you hear people saying, "yeah, manufacturing is great, like you've seen here-- maybe tourism, maybe agriculture. but there is no plan, no leadership, no one saying this is where we're going." and you know what is sad is that-- i know what i'm talking about because i hire thousands of them, haitian people-- the only thing they want... don't hand food or money to them. give them a job. >> narrator: being part of haiti's business elite can make you a target. many have chosen to leave the country. those like daniel rousier, who stay and work, can pay a terrible price. >> kidnappings are rampant everywhere in society. my wife was a victim of kidnappings. five years ago, she was
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kidnapped for ten days, and she was blindfolded and released after we've paid a ransom. actually, we paid three ransoms before she was released. she was traumatized. she had to leave the country with my... my kids. they're now living in the us. >> narrator: rousier has resolved to stay. >> i was born and raised here, and i'm still very committed to living here. >> narrator: rousier is building a power plant for the textile factories he hopes will come to haiti if investment begins to flow. >> we have about eight big generators that will produce about 36 megawatts, really. and this represents 15% of... of the production needed for port au prince. the hope is that by bringing in more investment, both local and
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foreign, we'll get everyone to work, properly occupied, living with dignity and... and not thinking about fighting each other. at times, coming from haiti feels like a... a burden. it feels like a heavy cannonball tied to your ankles. it feels like a curse, really. i used to really feel that. until it came to me that living in haiti was a blessing. it's the opportunity to touch christ every day in the person that can't feed himself, in the men in the prison, in the kids that contracted aids and doesn't have access to his medicine.
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>> narrator: insecurity undermines everything haitians and outsiders do to help the country. it drives away each successive generation of talent. of haitians who've completed secondary education, more than three quarters now live abroad. in grand ravine, a slum in the south of port au prince, the gangs are at war again. when the gunfire dies down, the police venture into the slum, guarded by un soldiers. they can do little more than pick up the bodies.
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a man has been gunned down next to his house, in front of his daughters. >> narrator: black africa was wanted for murder. the number of murders recorded at the city morgue is many times the official un statistic. no one in haiti really knows how
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many killings there are. ( laughter ) >> narrator: building a new haiti is about far more than repairing earthquake damage. >> if the mistake is made to state or assume that the problem of haiti is one of the earthquake and that all that is needed is to fix that damage and then everything will be okay, that will be a huge disservice to the haitian population. the problem in haiti is not to provide temporary shelters or homes to those affected by the earthquake; it's a problem of assisting haiti to fix its chronic problems.
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the rule of law is fundamental for making this work. >> narrator: haitians have been voting for a new president. whoever takes charge will be expected to transform haiti using the money promised by international donors. without a functioning state, this will be impossible. >> i think this is the time, the moment for us, the international community, to work in a different way and work with the state through haitian institutions in order to strengthen them. of course, it's going to take more time, it's going to be more complicated, but we have to break this vicious circle where we have been involved for the last 30 years. >> narrator: international aid is paying for the training of more police recruits, yet the man who will lead these recruits believes the political system is beyond repair.
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>> ( translated ): we've got to change things. for that, we need a revolution. nothing will change if we keep on talking about democracy and being held to the standards of the great democracies. all we need are the right men, the right leaders to go forward. >> narrator: haiti's national hero, toussaint l'ouverture. 200 years ago, he led the slaves of haiti in a war of liberation.
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>> there was a before-9/11 and there was an after-9/11. >> technology surpassed surveillance. >> everybody is subject to investigation. >> buildings four stories high, but they go down ten stories. >> fingerprint database, dna database. >> this has gotten so big, it's impossible to manage. >> are we safer? are we safe enough? >> one of three news stories next time on frontline. >> this report continues online... >> this the republic of ngos. >> ...offering deeper background on what's being done to solve haiti's chronic problems...
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>> there is not a natural divide between politics and gangsterism. >> ...and read the filmmaker's reflections. and there's much more on frontline's web site. watch nearly 100 programs from our archive, explore interactive timelines and maps, and follow ongoing frontline investigations. then join the discussion at >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major funding is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. and by reva and david logan, committed to investigative journalism as the guardian of the public interest. additional funding is provided by the park foundation,
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dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical ises. and by the frontline journalism fund. >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our web site at frontline's "battle for haiti" is available on dvd. to order, visit or call 1-800-play-pbs. captioned by
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media access group at wgbh the pbs series "god in america" from american experience and frontline is... "eye-opening and thought-provoking"... "ambitious and extraordinarily well-produced"... and "probably the most provocative, insightful look ever done on the role of religion in the united states." now you can own a dvd set of the series "god in america". to order, go to, or call 1 - 800 - play - pbs.
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no. well, it's just past there. first house in the right after the cottage on the l don't panic. brazen it out. me? - no. - right. here goes. yippee!
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